Rigging the System: New Law Benefits Phil Berger, Jr.
A new state law pushed through in this past legislative session could benefit the son of powerful lawmaker, Phil Berger of the NC Senate, giving his son Phil Berger Jr. an advantage over other candidates as he runs for a seat on the Court of Appeals.
This bill is cynical politics at its worst.
Phil Berger Jr. is the son of Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), one of the most powerful officials in North Carolina. The younger Berger is a former district attorney who again is seeking public office after losing a bid for the state's 6th Congressional District seat in 2014.
Berger Jr. is now running for a seat on the Court of Appeals against incumbent Linda Stephens, a Democrat.
Among the policies passed hastily in the final days of the legislative session is Senate Bill 667, a measure that would implement a new procedure for listing names on the ballot in the Court of Appeals race. Berger Jr. would be listed first, a placement that many experts say is advantageous. Incumbents are typically listed in that top slot on ballots.
"There are a host of studies on this and they are fairly consistent that being listed first on the ballot is an advantage," said Chris Cooper, a political science and public affairs professor at Western Carolina.
The measure at hand would only change the ballot order for this specific contest. The Governor could sign the measure, veto it, or let it become law without his signature.